The first season of Star Wars: The Mandalorian came to a fiery, exciting conclusion with its action-packed Chapter 7 followed by a highly-satisfying and equally, if not more, exciting Chapter 8, with the two episodes combining to create the best Star Wars content to be released in years. The Disney+ series took a truly episodic approach to Mando's story, sending him off on standalone missions with each week's installment, culminating in a meaningful and purposeful finale that has fans unanimously eager to see what is coming in the show's second season. The final episode of The Mandalorian's first season was a master class in directing from Thor: Ragnarok helmer Taika Waititi, offering up pulse-pounding suspense, fantastic action sequences, and rousing surprises.
WARNING: Spoilers below for the season finale of The Mandalorian!
Most of The Mandalorian's first season consisted of the titular figure seeking refuge with a bounty he was hired to deliver to mysterious, likely villainous sources. After an adorable baby-version of Yoda's species was revealed, the little green guy served as the draw for many to return with an immediate attachment to its safety. However, while many came back to root for the little one's protection and hoping to learn more about his origin, the series was teasing something deeper. Mando (Pedro Pascal), real name Din Djarin, was slowly unmasking himself and showing an affectionate side for the character, known as "The Child." Perhaps he identified with it, as it also seemed left behind with no family or direction. The relationship between the two blossomed into a delightful presence on screen as the talented bounty hunter often found himself being rescued by The Child, teasing ever-coveted Force connections of which fans know much about despite the characters knowing very little. Brilliantly, instead of revealing only what audience members knew from other Star Wars content and feeding knowledge to the character, The Mandalorian offered up new insight and abilities for both parties throughout.
Very importantly, The Mandalorian had a vision from its start. The journey which started with a bounty hunter collecting and delivering a package evolved into a heartfelt story of his connections with friends and foes to do something the audience became quickly and heavily invested in. This is why the Disney+ show amounted to the best live-action Star Wars content in years in its conclusion. The seeds planted early in the series, ranging from the relationship with Carl Weathers' Greef Karga coming full circle to a mysterious man-behind-the-curtain villain revealing himself in the final episodes, complete with a tease of exciting Star Wars lore.
Along the way, many audiences found themselves thinking, "This show needs a bit more direction." Week after week, Mando went on adventures that were entertaining but ultimately did not feel integral to the overarching plot. It was exciting to explore pockets of the Star Wars universe, but the antagonist chasing Mando and The Child remained an out-of-sight mystery for a majority of the first season. This would do nothing other than fully pay off in the final pair of episodes, which, in many ways, feel like the third installment of a Mandalorian trilogy. Those episodes, even if the brief time spent with other characters or on new planets, built both the relationships between Mando, The Child, Cara Dune (Gina Carano), Kuill (Nick Nolte), and Greef Karga, along with amplifying the tension as the enemies grew closer.
Without the tension and relationships, Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 would not have warranted thunderous applause and cheers. Deborah Chow expertly directed Chapter 7, a perfect penultimate episode which set the stage for a finale that starts with the heroes having their backs against the wall, subverting expectations by eliminating The Client (Werner Herzog), and finally pulling the curtain back on Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito).
Enter Taika Waititi with the ball teed up for a home run — and the clever director slams it out of the park. Waititi's finale episode starts with a signature of the director's: a mockery with self-awareness as a pair of stormtroopers (which are secretly fun cameos) using their blasters and being unable to hit a nearby, stationary target. Pair that with the infuriating touch of having them repeatedly punch the precious baby and the immediate investment in a fun start to the episode is at peak level, as if the preceding episode did not already warrant as much.
Gideon becomes an intriguing villain, peeling back the curtain a satisfying amount to inform fans what he is trying to do while simultaneously preserving the mystery of why he is so adamant about retrieving the nameless "Baby Yoda." The exciting rescue of the baby by Waititi's IG-11 injects some thrill early in the episode and the impressive sequence would hardly be the most exciting peak of the final Chapter. The heroes, cornered with seemingly no way out, find themselves floating down a river of lava as though it was a nice boat ride through Venice, leading to a surprisingly emotional sacrifice.
Of course, IG-11's heroic exit — teased in the first episode when his programming of self-destructing was revealed — did not come before the Mandalorian's face was finally revealed. Fans knew all along that Pedro Pascal was under the helmet, knowing his face from Game of Thrones and Kingsman: The Golden Circle, but, somehow, the reveal still felt unexpected and rewarding. The Mandalorian has a face and earned a bit more humanity in that moment, serving as the icing on the cake of sorts for an impressively developed character, just after revealing the heartbreaking truth of his Mandalore heritage.
Before the episode would close, Mando throws on a jetpack for an epic moment which felt like an organic story point with fan service peppered onto it. Having received his signet from his Armorer (Emily Swallow) and officially forming a clan (and responsibility) with The Child, Mando is excitingly ready to search for Jedi and The Child's ancestors, but not before he takes down Gideon's TIE Fighter. The sequence was film-quality, making a ship that is often easily disposed in films into a formidable foe and more intimately daunting than ever.
Mando's journey will continue as he is last seen flying off, leaving viewers begging for the second season's arrival, and the episodes queues up a well-placed cliffhanger. Gideon emerges from his wreckage wielding a Darksaber, an item which will spark conversations about Star Wars lore and theories until the show returns in the Fall of 2020.
It's all so impressively executed, resulting in the best Star Wars content in years. The Mandalorian's pace of storytelling is masterful, with each entry earning a well-timed action sequence that appears to be above television standards. A man whose face is not seen until the final episode is made to be interestingly human and his allies each have their own respective highlights in the final episodes. And, well, Baby Yoda is just adorable every time it graces the screen — especially when it is saving the day in epic fashion. The show is a well-balanced adventure through the galaxy, full of hope, thrills, and triumph.
The final two episodes, culminating an impressive premiere season, prove that The Mandalorian is everything Star Wars should be.
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